Marc Schooley File:
Reviewed by Eric Wilson
The Dark Man by Marc Schooley
"In the middle of this Ted-Dekker-type action, Schooley engages our hearts with some relational moments, and our minds with some sly, often humorous, jabs about politics and faith."
I've always been a fan of near-future thrillers, particularly when laced with social commentary that feels intrinsic to the story. From "Fahrenheit 451" to "A Clockwork Orange" to "Minority Report," there have been some fantastic books in this genre, but I've never seen one that fearlessly inserted a modern version of the Apostle Paul--he who persecuted the church until his dramatic Damascus Road conversion.
Marc Schooley's story starts with a disorienting and heart-twisting scene that sets the stage for Charles to become a lonely yet ruthless hunter of those refusing to comply with the new world's religious regulations. He uses clever disguises to infiltrate and apprehend Christian groups, sending them off to Reclamation Centers where they are reprogrammed through prism therapy: "Blue fills my soul with joy. Blue is father sky . . . Green is the color of life. Green is mother earth."
The story takes a dramatic, Damascus-type turn when Charles hides out at an underground Christian gathering and finds himself reacting to the pastor's message. Soon, Charles is no longer the hunter but the prey, and the book picks up speed as the secrets of his past and the enemies in his present head for a collision.
The writing gets stronger as the story moves along, kicking into a nice rhythm, relying less on some of the awkward interior monologue. There are some heart-pounding action scenes, and only one that left me wishing for a little bit more foreshadowing. In the middle of this Ted-Dekker-type action, Schooley engages our hearts with some relational moments, and our minds with some sly, often humorous, jabs about politics and faith. The symbolism of the dark man is effective. I loved the references to censorship. His female lead provides some cynical balance to the mix, and the antagonist, Mr. Farris (pronounced "Fah-reese" if you don't want to make him upset), adds some levity.
Once again, Marcher Lord Press has given us a wonderful read, and I'm looking forward to what comes next from Mr. Schooley.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.